Autonomic function in narcolepsy: Power spectrum analysis of heart rate variability

L. Ferini-Strambi, A. Spera, A. Oldani, M. Zucconi, A. Bianchi, S. Cerutti, S. Smirne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ten narcoleptic patients that had never been treated previously and ten healthy volunteers of comparable age underwent 48-h polygraphic recording to assess the effects of wakefulness and sleep on beat-to-beat heart rate variability by means of power spectrum analysis. The study revealed decreased power in the low frequencies (LF) during sleep (whereby an increase of the power in this band is associated with sympathetic activation) compared with wakefulness, with minimal values during stage 3-4 non-REM sleep and higher levels during REM sleep, both in patients and controls. Significantly reduced power in high fre quencies (HF; mainly expression of parasympathetic control) and a significantly increased LF/HF ratio during wakefulness before sleep in narcoleptics compared with controls were found. Our study excludes a primary disturbance of cardiac autonomic nervous system in narcoleptics but suggests an altered circadian autonomic function in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-255
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Heart rate
  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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